Reinventing Hillel at Tulane
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Organizational Makeover: Tearing Hillel down
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“Hillel’s not really my thing. That’s not me.” This is not what you want to hear as a ﬁrstyear Hillel director acclimating to a new campus. Yet when I arrived at Tulane University four years ago, that’s the refrain I heard as I tried to ﬁgure out how a Jewish student population that comprised more than 30 percent of the school’s student body could barely turn out 100 students for its largest events. Hillel at Tulane had been built on Jewish communal best practices, but it was not actually reﬂective of the social and religious wants and needs of the school’s more than 2,000 Jews. It was out of touch with the real desires of the demographic Hillel wanted to reach, and the handful of students who participated was cloistered in its own insular Hillel community. We had to change the way we were thinking. Since then, we have been able to increase participation by 230 percent and boost our fundraising by 78 percent. We’ve quadrupled the number of students we send on Birthright Israel and more than tripled attendance at weekly Shabbat services. Students on their own have raised more than $25,000 for various Hillel causes. We’ve created a complete cultural shift, as now our participants are primarily students who wouldn’t typically participate in Jewish institutional life. All in just three years. How did we do it? We tore down everything and let the majority rule. Like many Jewish institutions, Tulane Hillel was built by Jewish professionals, not by the people it wanted to reach. It wasn’t Tulane students’ thing because they did not create it. In 2008 it was run by students who had made being Jewish central to their identities at college. Naturally they created Jewish programming based on their own interests. But this strongly identiﬁed group was a tiny Jewish minority on campus. Their social reach was limited because their circles extended primarily to students who already shared their passion for Judaism and their aﬃnity for Hillel. This made it nearly impossible for Hillel’s student leadership, and the organization at large, to meaningfully address the broader campus population — despite oﬀering cash incentives, or even compelling content. The same could be said of the staﬀ. I realized this in the midst of my search to ﬁnd an “engagement associate.” Candidate after candidate was well meaning and well qualiﬁed in terms of organizational experience and Jewish academic pedigree. Yet I realized I was talking with Jewish professionals like me. I realized that if I wanted staﬀ who could easily relate to Jews of the Tulane diaspora,
they would need to be from the diaspora. So I found in many cases that the more aﬃliated the candidate’s Jewish background, the less qualiﬁed he or she was for the job. We responded by dissolving the existing student leadership board and sought students who would have never been involved with organized Jewish life. And we gave them the keys to the car. We did not ask these new students how we could best leverage their social networks to beneﬁt Hillel. Instead we made it clear that our interest was in them and not for the betterment of Hillel. We wanted to know how Hillel could best aid them in furthering their interests, passions and aspirations. They would redeﬁne Jewish life at Tulane. Instead of designing programs from the top down that we institutionally thought might work, we charged these new leaders with planning programs on their own, and we created a micro-grant pool to fund their ideas. Instead of having an insular group trying to ﬁgure out how to reach the mainstream, we let the students of the mainstream reach out to their friends and natural social circles. They would lead Hillel, and their interests would determine Jewish life on campus. Over the past three years, our student leadership has grown from 35 Jewish insiders to 160 students. The new voices have brought to the table programming that was diﬀerent from what we might have suggested. Some were truly unique: an urban farming collective set up in lower income neighborhoods; a university-wide open mic night; an architectural competition for sukkah design on campus. Others more closely resembled programs at other Jewish organizations: a Sunday bagel brunch, a bone marrow drive, sponsored Shabbat dinners. The new Hillel leaders created an organic recruitment process that altered the culture and perception of who can lead and be part of Jewish life. Their network became our network. Some of the core students felt initially that their Hillel had been taken from them. In the end the already aﬃliated found their place and we still serve as their primary Jewish resource. But if we were to reach the broader population, the organization had to be re-created by the broader population. We brought the outside in — and they aren’t our guests. They are our leaders. Rabbi Yonah Schiller is the executive director of the Tulane University Hillel and an adjunct professor of Jewish civilization and Jewish mysticism.
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Front Porch Former CIA Director to speak at Federation event: It’s highly unusual for a Jewish Federation in the midst of an Annual Campaign drive to say that its campaign event is top secret, but that is exactly what the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is doing. R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is the guest speaker for the March 21 event, which will be held at the Audubon Tea Room at 6:45 p.m. The campaign celebration is open to all who give a minimum gift of $18 to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. As part of the evening, Julius Levy Jr. will receive the eighth annual Roger Bissinger Memorial Award. The Bissinger Award is presented to a member of the community “who emulates the spirit, character, and leadership qualities epitomized by Roger Bissinger, and whose steadfast commitment and leadership has benefited the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and other civic, educational, and cultural organizations.” Levy is a past president and campaign chair of the Federation, past president of Temple Sinai and has served on the boards of the Jewish Community Center, Anti-Defamation League, Woldenberg Village, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee. He has been to Israel 33 times, and has visited Federation-funded sites in the former Soviet Union, Morocco and Cuba. He teaches anatomy at Tulane University and has served as chairman of the Department of Surgery at Touro Infirmary and Lakeside Hospital. After the presentation, Woolsey will discuss the current political situation in the Middle East. Woolsey is chairman of Woolsey Partners LLC and a venture partner with Lux Capital Management. He chairs the board of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and co-founded the United States Energy Security Council. He was Director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995. He also served as Undersecretary of the Naxy in the late 1970s, and was a delegate and advisor on the SALT I and START talks with the Soviet Union. The event is chaired by Lou and Susan Good, Amy and Jedd Malish, Louis Shepard and Jan Miller. Sponsors are Herman, Herman and Katz LLP, and Whitney Bank. Cost is $25 per person, including a dessert reception with supervised kosher options, and an open bar. Reservations can be made online at jewishnola.com. The Federation also announced that the annual Lion of Judah luncheon will be April 24 at Longue Vue, featuring Gail Norry, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America National Women’s Philanthropy. NOLA
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Time to be pro-active on campus: Those who support Israel need to be proactive, not reactive, to reach the hearts and minds of future decision makers. That’s the aim of Chloe Valdary, founder of Allies of Israel at the University of New Orleans, which held its first major event on Jan. 28. Daniel Pipes, executive director of the Middle East Forum and Campus Watch, was the keynote speaker for the “Declare Your Freedom” event at the UNO amphitheater. Also speaking were Evan Sayet from the Heritage Foundation, Al Sonja Schmidt, WRNO talk show host Denny Schaeffer, Rabbi Yossi Nemes from the Chabad Center of Metairie, and Tulane University for Israel President Yoni Kaplan. Kermit Ruffins started the event with the National Anthem, and Mobile jazz pianist Stephen Roberts also performed. While the event drew about 100 UNO and Tulane students and community members, the event also attracted about 20 on the other side of the issue. The Palestine Solidarity Committee of New Orleans showed up to distribute flyers, including information on Sabra hummus, which is available on campus and is a target of boycotts by anti-Israel groups. Valdary shrugged off the protestors, saying they “walked in, held up a sign that said, “Don’t forget about the Palestinians” and then walked out.” In her opening remarks, Valdary compared the Boycott-DivestmentSanctions movement to anti-Jewish boycotts from the 1930s. “The end result of this is genocide,” she said. On July 9, 2005, the BDS movement started, soon followed by “Israel Apartheid Week” demonstrations at campuses around the world. “How far will you let it go?” Valdary asked. She continued by asking what those in attendance would do if a group claimed the “Holocaust never happened, what if they denied to your face that 6 million Jews were killed” and called Hitler one of their heroes. “Don’t think it could happen? It happened right here, at this institution. Last November, on the day called diversity day,” she said. The day wasn’t just to support Israel, but to stand with the Jewish people. “Anti-Semitism is rising. Jew-hatred is spreading. The thing we said would never happen again is happening,” Valdary said. “Today’s event is our collective affirmation that as Americans and Israelis, as Jews and Gentiles, we will fight and we will stand for liberty.” Part of the group’s aim is to launch a multimedia campaign, “Once and For All,” raising awareness of anti-Semitism by using popular culture. She is currently trying to raise $10,000 to launch the campaign through “film, music videos, mixed media and other artistic measures” and take it worldwide from New Orleans. After the rally, Pipes pledged $3,000 for the campaign. As an example of using new media, a video of her remarks received close to 10,000 views within the first week after the rally. Nemes noted that their military is called the “Israel Defense Force, not some holy brigade trying to meet an imaginary heaven that does not exist... There is no heaven where you go if you go to blow up a child or adult.” Tulane researchers tackle trauma with Israeli experts: Israel is nearly 7,000 miles from Tulane University, but Ron Marks, dean of the School of Social Work, could think of no better place to study trauma than a land that lives with traumatic events, or at least the threat of them, 24 hours a day. So Marks and Charles Figley, director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, traveled to Tel Aviv recently to launch an exhaustive study on how Israelis cope with traumatic stress. Working with professional videographers, they interviewed seven of Israel’s foremost trauma and resilience experts. Based on their findings, they plan to hold a summit on trauma in New Orleans and NOLA
Front Porch Israel, produce a special issue of the Journal of Traumatology and make a documentary. “It provided us with an opportunity for total immersion into this world of experts,” Marks says. “With the constant threat of terrorism and chronic warfare, we wanted to find out what they have discovered in terms of trauma and resilience.” One such discovery was the need for high-quality and easily accessible mental health services. “The trauma and stress was so widespread (in the 1990s) that national policy needed to be changed so that community centers could be established to deal with this,” Marks says. Among the experts they interviewed was Zahava Solomon, a social work professor at the University of Tel Aviv who has studied warinduced stress since the Lebanon War in 1982. They also met with Dr. Avi Bleich, an expert in military psychology. “My sense of the motivation to talk with us was high because they knew we got it, and they know that the world can benefit from their knowledge,” Figley says. Marks agrees. “There are lessons to be learned about Israel and the nature of this place, and these people that enable them to survive and prosper.” Written by Barri Bronston, assistant director of public relations at Tulane University. Jazz Fest Shabbat headliner announced: Touro Synagogue in New Orleans has announced that Michael White will be this year’s headliner for Jazz Fest Shabbat, on April 26. JazzFest Shabbat has been celebrated by Touro for over two decades, bringing together Judaism with jazz. The service is open to the community, and has attracted some of New Orleans’ most notable musical names. Previous headliners include Jeremy Davenport, Kermit Ruffins, Marcia Ball, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and John Boutte. The evening starts with a dinner and private patrons concert at 6 p.m., with the Jazz Fest Shabbat service at 7:30 p.m. White is a recording artist with Basin Street Records and was the 2010 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Humanist of the Year. A New Orleans native, he is related to several pioneering jazz musicians, but his inspiration was an aunt who played classical clarinet. Upon getting his Master’s from Tulane in 1979, he joined the Young Tuxedo Jazz Band, then founded the Original Liberty Jazz Band to preserve New Orleans’ musical heritage. He has been on over three dozen recordings, including 11 of his own. He has worked on many documentary films, and worked with Wynton Marsalis on concert tributes to early New Orleans jazz greats, including a “Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton” at the Lincoln Center in New York. He taught Spanish for two decades and now holds the Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University. His home, with 30 years of jazz artifacts and memorabilia, was flooded by Katrina. In 2008 he released “Blue Crescent,” and last year released “Adventures in New Orleans Jazz Part 2.” NOLA
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Beth Israel and Gates of Prayer in Metairie continue their collaborative education efforts with a series on Kabbalah, Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. from March 6 to 20. Rabbis Robert Loewy and Uri Topolosky will introduce the sessions, which will be taught by Rabbi Gary Gerson. The first session, “Standing on One Foot: Early Mysticism” and second one, “The Zohar: An Essential Text” will be at Beth Israel, while the March 20 session, “Hasidism as an Expression of Mysticism” will be at Gates of Prayer. The New Orleans Jewish Community Center will screen “Life In Stills,” an award-winning Israeli film, on March 13 at 6 p.m. at the Uptown location. After the film, its star, Ben Peter, will discuss the story behind the movie. In it, he tries to help his grandmother preserve the family’s photo archives depicting historic moments in Israel. Admission is free and deli box dinners can be reserved in advance for $8. Gates of Prayer in Metairie is hosting “A Hollywood Happening” as its annual gala, showcasing the talents of congregants, directed by Cantorial Soloist Tory May. The March 16 event will be at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 each, or $35 for those under age 35. Patron levels start at $300, and include a patron party at the home of Cathy and Morris Bart on March 14. Registration is open for the annual Kicking for Kids kickball tournament at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center. The double-elimination tournament at the Uptown JCC will be April 21, and benefits children’s programming at the JCC. The winning team receives a pool party for 50, and there is a limit of 12 teams. Registration is $400 per team, and each team must have at least one JCC member and at least four female players. Beth Israel in Metairie will host a Hillel group from the University of Maryland over Shabbat on March 22 and 23. Volunteers and donations are needed for the Jewish Family Service Passover basket day. Baskets are assembled for older adults and those in the community who are in financial need. Assembly will start on March 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. Beth Israel in Metairie is reviving its Sisterhood. There was an opening meeting with a yoga session, and a slate of officers has been proposed, led by proposed co-presidents Judy Antin Lachoff and Lee Beerman Blotner. The next meeting, which includes elections, will be March 18 at 7 p.m. Community Day School in Metairie invites the community to view the annual Science Fair for grades 3 to 5. The projects will be displayed from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on March 12. The Jewish Farm School will be visiting Anshe Sfard from March 3 to 17. The New York-based school is dedicated to teaching about contemporary food and environmental issues through innovative trainings and skill-based Jewish agricultural education. They will be preparing their meals and the Shabbat lunches in the Anshe Sfard kitchen. The New Orleans Synagogue Softball League picks up where it left off. On March 10, Shir Chadash and Touro Synagogue will meet in a season-opening rematch of last season’s championship game, which Touro won, 9-8, on a controversial game-ending runner’s interference call. The league is made up of teams from the New Orleans area and Baton Rouge, and plays every Sunday at Girod Park in Metairie. Beth Israel in Metairie is having a man’s mock Seder on March 17. While there will be instruction on tools to run a great Seder at home, the food will be a bit different from a typical Seder — barbecue, four cups of beer and three pitas. Reservations are $10 for the 7:30 p.m. event.
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Front Porch Shaya leading culinary weekend in Greenwood: Alon Shaya, chef at Domenica in New Orleans, continues to rack up the accolades, and this month he will be leading a Culinary Weekend at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, Miss. Shaya opened Domenica with John Besh in 2008, a family-oriented, authentic Italian restaurant in the historic Roosevelt Hotel. In February, the James Beard Foundation named him a semifinalist in the Best Chef in the South category. There are 20 semifinalists, five from New Orleans. Finalists will be announced on March 18. In December, New Orleans Magazine named him Chef of the Year. From March 22 to 24 Shaya will lead classes at the weekend cooking school. There are one-night and two-night packages available with the Alluvian Hotel in downtown Greenwood. More information is available at vikingcookingschool.com, or by calling (662) 451-6750. Marching in Remembrance: Alabama Stands With Israel is coordinating a March of Remembrance in Montgomery on April 7 at 2 p.m. The group, which holds the march each year, starts at the Catoma Street Church of Christ, which was the first location for Montgomeryâ€™s first synagogue, then continues to the Capitol Building for a ceremony honoring victims of the Holocaust. The march is part of an international effort to stand with Israel and remember the Holocaust. A similar march will be in Birmingham and in New Orleans on that day. Last year the Jewish community did not participate in those marches, because much of the planning and participation came from local messianic groups. Grants for first-time campers: Campers currently in grades 1 through 9 in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Northwest Florida are eligible for a Goldring Jewish Summer Camp Experience incentive grant. They must be a first-time camper, a resident of the eligible area and attend a non-profit Jewish sleep-away camp this coming summer. Applications are available from the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana at jefno. org, and the deadline is March 31. Grants are not based on financial need, and there is no requirement of synagogue affiliation. Southern Jewish Life
Front Porch Fundraising challenges: Two regional organizations had quick fundraising opportunities in the last month. Jewish Children’s Regional Service was aiming for part of $50,000 being donated by Gulf Coast Bank to the 10 charities that got the most online votes. The contest was slated to end on March 4; as of press time JCRS was in 16th place. The New Orleans-based JCRS was the only Jewish non-profit signed up. An anonymous donor issued a $500,000 challenge grant to the Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life — but the match has to be pledged (not necessarily paid) by March 10. The challenge is a $1 match for every $2 raised, so $1 million in pledges is needed. Donors must pledge in writing by March 10 and have until January 2015 to finish paying. Gifts must be designated to one of four departments — education, rabbinic services, community engagement or cultural programs/museum. Israeli Soldiers Tell Stories Across South: The Israeli Soldiers Stories tour was at McNeese State University’s Old Ranch in Lake Charles on Feb. 19. Drew Alyeshmerni, left, is an Israeli soldier who spoke about her experiences in the military. Vida Velasco, right, represents StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization. The event was co-sponsored by McNeese Multicultural Programming, Tabernacle of David and CUFI @ MSU. The tour also stopped at the University of New Orleans for a Feb. 28 program, sponsored by StandWithUs and Allies of Israel. A group of Palestinian protestors attended the event and staged a walkout. Orit Kopel, another Israeli soldier who was unable to make the McNeese State event but spoke in New Orleans, said “We came for the purpose of creating a dialogue. The pro-Palestinian protesters came for the sole purpose of shutting us up. They are not helping the Palestinians, they only harm them. Because only dialogue can lead to peace.” They also spoke at Mississippi College on Feb. 26, and the Tulane Hillel on March 1. Open Door for couples with recently-converted spouse: Ramah Darom is holding one of three first-ever “Open Door Retreats” in the Conservative movement — for young married couples where one of the spouses recently converted to Judaism. The retreat will celebrate Jewish life, include a Shabbat experience and the opportunity to build friendships with similar couples in the region. The Ramah Darom retreat will be May 24 to 26. Other retreats will be at Ramah California and New England. The subsidized cost is $200 per couple. Sponsored by the Ramah movement and the Jewish Theological Seminary, the OpenDoor Retreats are designed as short-term programs for couples, families, and individuals who are celebrating aspects of life’s journey or coping with challenges encountered along the way For registration or more information visit opendoorretreats.org. 10
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Reunion, rededication weekend draws large crowd for Bama ZBT
Aresty receives Intʼl Man of Year recognition
For the last two years, friends and alumni of Zeta Beta Tau at the University of Alabama have been working on a campaign to completely renovate the ZBT House, ﬁnishing last August. The weekend of Feb. 15, they came to Tuscaloosa to see the results and celebrate a fellow Bama ZBT be recognized as International Man of Faron Lewitt, executive director of the ZBT the Year. Vikki Grodner said Foundation, reads the award to David Aresty attendance far exceeded initial expectations, and many who were there had not been back to campus in decades. Over 340 attended what was billed as “the biggest weekend in Psi Chapter history.” The Hillel and Sigma Delta Tau sorority also held events during the weekend, highlighting Jewish life on campus. Tuck said the impetus for the renovation was a challenge from thenUniversity President Robert Witt to the Greek system to upgrade their houses, and the university made ﬁnancial resources available to make it easier to do so. Likewise, Witt made growing the Jewish enrollment at Alabama a prority, and in the last few years the Hillel House moved into a new building, while next door Temple Emanu-El also built a new building in its return to the campus area. The ZBT House at Alabama had not been updated since 1970, and Tuck said they were at the point where the house had to meet the needs of today’s student, or lose students to fraternities with more modern facilities. The chapter has raised $1.1 million, and the campaign continues toward a $1.5 million goal. The chapter is also selling commemorative bricks for the porch outside of Alumni Hall. Tuck said the results have been immediate, with 32 new members this year, up from 25 per year. Within recent memoPhoto by Nik Layman ry, the total membership had been in the Among those in attendance was surprise guest Bertha “Mama” Silver, who served ZBT 30 to 35 range. Also, “Where we “with love and devotion” for 22 years.
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had trouble getting members to live in the house prior to the renovations, we now have 29 fully occupied rooms,” he said. New members hail not only from Alabama, but from places like Utah, California, Illinois and New York. Before the afternoon basketball game on Feb. 16, the house was rededicated. That evening, there was a reception at the University Club where David Aresty was honored as ZBT International Man of the Year. The recognition was announced on July 28 at ZBT’s international convention, but Aresty could not attend because on July 20 he had a liver transplant. He noted that he was released from the hospital in Nebraska on July 28. Faron Lewitt, executive director of the ZBT
Foundation, made the presentation, stating that Aresty “exempliﬁed the teaching of ZBT’s ritual... to better the communities in which we live.” Ken Grodner, who serves as advisor to Bama ZBT, detailed how Aresty was in New Jersey watching coverage of the April 27, 2011 tornado that cut through Tuscaloosa, killing dozens and destroying hundreds of buildings. The COO for Alfred Dunner, Aresty coordinated the donation of 32,000 new women’s outﬁts valued at $1 million for what became Dressing Up! Tuscaloosa. The event transformed a school gym into a fashion center where women aﬀected by the
Continued on page 32
ZBT making return to Tulane campus On March 3, the Sigma chapter of Zeta Beta Tau plans to initiate 45 “founding fathers” at Tulane University, and promote a new beginning after several diﬃcult years. Laurence Bolotin, ZBT executive director, said ZBT has been working with Tulane, the Tulane Hillel and Chabad, alumni and the local Jewish community to re-colonize Tulane. Hillel welcomed ZBT back with a Shabbat dinner and event on Jan. 18, and on Feb. 14, 39 participated in a commitment ceremony. “These students represent the best and brightest at Tulane,” he said. “They have a cumulative GPA of nearly 3.5, are actively involved in the campus Jewish community, have been recognized as individuals for their commitment to community service and philanthropy, and share ZBTs desire to be an organization without pledging at Tulane.” In 1989, ZBT became one of the ﬁrst national fraternities to abolish pledging. Founded in 1898 as the nation’s ﬁrst Jewish fraternity, it became a national fraternity with the addition of Tulane in 1909. The 12
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14th chapter, Tulane ZBT was the ﬁrst located outside the Northeast. In 2005, the ZBT house at Tulane was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but a bigger blow came in January 2007 when a Winter Break ﬁre left the chapter homeless. The cause of the ﬁre was never oﬃcially determined and was one of several fraternity house ﬁres at Tulane in recent years. In 2008 the chapter rebuilt and was able to move into its new home in March 2009 — but in 2010, ZBT was kicked oﬀ campus because of violations of hazing policy. The chapter was told not to try and return until those involved had graduated. In January, the process began for ZBT’s return. Sophomore AJ DeLeon told the Hullabaloo that they “want to bring back a great organization that really fell out of touch with its roots, and we want to bring it back and make it our own and make it something we can be proud of.” Phi Mu currently occupies the new ZBT house, but the lease expires in the summer of 2014, and Bolotin said ZBT will return to the building in the fall of 2014.
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The Harmony Club in Selma has been restored
Selma Pilgrimage focuses on Jewish heritage For this year’s Historic Selma Pilgrimage, there is an emphasis on the city’s Jewish heritage. Many sites of Jewish interest are on the roster for the 38th annual event, which takes place March 15 and 16. The Jewish community, which now is but a handful of members, dates back to the 1830s. They arrived on the bluﬀs of the Alabama River and established a variety of retail and wholesale stores. The newcomers contributed their time and skills to help build Selma into the “Queen City of the Black Belt,” and their names remained prominent. A formal community was established just after the Civil War with the establishment of Mishkan Israel. In the early 20th century, an Orthodox congregation would also be established. It is said that on the High Holy Days back then, one could roll a bowling ball down Broad Street and not hit anyone, since so many stores were closed. The tour will include Mishkan Israel, which was built in 1899 and is known for its stained-glass windows, including one depicting Ruth, a rarity as synagogue windows generally do not depict human ﬁgures. An eﬀort is underway to raise money to preserve the Mishkan Israel building and eventually turn it into a museum and meeting space. Also featured will be the Harmony Club, which used to be the Jewish social club. Located just steps from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the club was founded in 1867. The current building was built in 1909 and later became an Elks Club. After years of being abandoned, it was purchased in 1999 by David Hurlbut, who started renovating it into a public space and private residence. It has been featured in the New York Times and HGTV, and he and Bill Tomey are continuing the restoration. The building now also houses an Italian restaurant, and this summer will be the venue Adler Building
for a Bar Mitzvah party for the ﬁrst time in decades. Down the street, the Adler building will also be featured. It housed a Jewish-owned wholesale grocery and cotton business. Also on the list is the Kayser-Turner-Searcy House, an Italian Renaissance Revival home built by Jewish businessman Isadore Kayser. He owned Kayser Department Store, and this house incorporates ideas from his many travels. The Koenigstahl-Williamson-Luker House is a handsome Queen Anne home that was owned by the family of Jewish businessman Levi Koenigstahl. The unusual mural on the parlor ceiling has been beautifully preserved. New to the pilgrimage this year are the Downtown Walking and Shopping Tour and The Tin Man’s Gallery, studio of renowned folk artist Charlie Lucas. Friday night events include an Old Live Oak Cemetery Tour where Selma’s residents-atrest tell how they helped shape history. The “newer” Jewish cemetery is located among Live Oak’s Spanish moss-draped avenues. Tickets and information will be available at the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum or online at selmapilgrimage.com.
No charitable gift has a greater impact on the lives of Israelis.
Call for Southern Jewish history papers The Southern Jewish Historical Society has issued a call for papers that can be presented at its annual conference in November. Since 1977, the SJHS has worked to foster scholarship about the experience of Southern Jews. With an annual conference, academic journal, and active grant and award programs, the society has helped to move Southern Jewish history from the margins of the American Jewish narrative into the mainstream. This year’s conference will be Nov. 1 to 3 in Birmingham. This is the 50th anniversary of civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, and the conference will be part of the city’s commemoration of the events. Although the history of Jews and the Civil Rights Movement will be of particular interest, proposals that deal with all dimensions of Southern Jewish history are welcomed. Submission of panel proposals will also be considered. Paper proposals are due by March 15. Abstracts should not exceed more than one page. Submissions should include an abstract, a CV and contact information. For panel proposals, include abstracts of each paper, CVs for presenters and panel organizer, and contact information for all participants. Proposals should be submitted to Dan Puckett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many ways to support Israel, but none is more transformative than a gift to Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical response and blood service agency. Your support isn’t just changing lives — it’s literally saving them — providing critical care and hospital transport for everyone from victims of heart attacks to casualties of rocket attacks. Save a life through a gift to Magen David Adom. And our best wishes for a joyous Pesach.
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Two more large Jewish conventions set for New Orleans
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Two large national Jewish gatherings are set for New Orleans over the coming year. The Jewish Federations of North America announced that next year’s TribeFest will be held March 16 to 18, 2014, at the Sheraton New Orleans. Also, United Synagogue Youth, the teen group for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, will hold its annual International Convention in New Orleans, Dec. 22 to 26. The USY convention attracts over 1000 teens and staﬀ from across the country, exploring the educational theme “Tikun Olam — Repairing the world.” In workshops, informal classes and group activities, Convention delegates will discuss and analyze how they can make a diﬀerence through their actions and their philanthropy. As part of a long-standing tradition, participants will spend the Monday of the Convention engaged in a social action project, holding a Day of Service in New Orleans. There will also be leadership workshops and committee meetings dealing with a wide variety of topics including Israel, political action programming, chapter and regional communications, social action programming and text study. International oﬃcers will also be elected. TribeFest, for Jews ages 22-45, oﬀers a diverse range of experiences and events and draws about 1500 participants. This will be the third TribeFest — the ﬁrst two were held in Las Vegas in 2011 and 2012, but it took a hiatus for 2013. According to JFNA, “TribeFest will reﬂect the vibrant setting of its host city, New Orleans, oﬀering meaningful, fun, and top-quality content. “Through presentations by dynamic leaders in politics, entertainment, music, art, food, religion and other aspects of Jewish life, TribeFest will oﬀer attendees many ways to connect to their own Judaism and how they see themselves as part of the community.” Referring to the 2012 event, Brian Katz of New Orleans, then the JFNA National Young Leadership co-chair, said “TribeFest is an important part of Jewish Federations’ eﬀorts to engage young Jews, and bring more voices to our tables. TribeFest not only creates a sense of community, but also raises awareness about the incredible, life-saving services at Jewish Federations.” For the 2014 event, Alison Lebovitz of Chattanooga is National Young Leadership Co-Chair Designate. She is a Birmingham native and an alumna of the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. Previous TribeFest headliners have included Hollywood actress Mayim Bialik, “Saturday Night Live” star Rachel Dratch, best-selling humorist and author A.J. Jacobs, Olympic goldmedal swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg, Idealist. Brian Katz of New Orleans and Shelly org founder Ami Dar Kupfer of Washington speak at TribeFest, and author of “The Acci- March 2012, as National Young Leadership dental Billionaires,” Ben co-chairs. Mezrich.
Let all who are hungry…
Jewish Food Festival season underway Montgomery’s Temple Beth Or held its annual Jewish Food Festvial on Feb. 24 (pictured left), bringing in the general community to learn about Jewish food and a litle bit about Jewish practices. Special items for the festival, most of which were handmade by Temple members, included pastries such as rugelach, strudel and mandel bread; hot plates of brisket or pastrami; matzo ball soup; potato latkes; and quajado (spinach pie). Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have its 29th annual Jewish food festival on March 17 to 19. The $9 lunches include a corned beef sandwich on rye bread, chips, dill pickle and homemade brownie. Egg salad and tuna are available by request. Lunches can be picked up on March 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On March 18 and 19, there will be lunch delivery to area businesses with a minimum of ﬁve lunches, from 10 a.m. to noon. Tickets are available at Beth Shalom. In Alexandria, the annual Jewish Temple Corned Beef Lunch Sale will be April 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The $8 package includes a sandwich, chips, cole slaw, pickle and mint. Complimentary soft drinks are available for dine-in, and New York cheesecake will also be available. Tickets are now available online, and delivery is available for 10 or more lunches. In Jackson, the annual Bazaar at Beth Israel will be on April 10. Cooking is already being scheduled for items such as cabbage rolls, kugel, carrot tsimmes and brisket. The much-anticipated event includes a white elephant sale, silent auction and takeout for bulk food items and desserts. Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville held its Deli Day on Feb. 28, and Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El has its Deli Day on May 2.
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Passover More than Matzah Now, Good Reading, and Fresh Ideas All Year UNCLUTTER YOUR WORLD Transform Your Garage
The New Jewish Table, by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoﬀ Gray
Chef Todd Gray, who happens to be Episcopalian, meets and falls in love with Ellen Kassoﬀ — yes, Jewish — and together they go on to open Washington restaurant hotspot Equinox. With the success of that venture, they’ve co-authored “The New Jewish Table,” with an emphasis on cooking what’s in season, and what’s local.
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Divided into four seasons, the book additionally provides menu ideas for Jewish holidays. Passover suggestions include ‘salad of roasted heirloom beets with capers and pistachios’ and a recipe for a baked geﬁlte ﬁsh that’s an interpretation of the French quenelles de brochet (pike dumplings).
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Todd’s deviled egg salad, grilled lamb burgers, and vanilla and peach melba are among the majority of recipes included that gratefully don’t require an excessive number of ingredients or steps, perfect for weeknights. Full of fresh ideas and out this month, it’s just what’s needed for some Pesadik inspiration.
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Jewish Cookery Book: on Principles of Economy, by Esther Levy Three historic books — among the 1100-plus inventory of the American Antiquarian Society — were chosen to be the ﬁrst reprinted recently to honor American culinary history. Among that trio is this reprint of the 1871 volume by Esther Levy, an important guide for European Jewish immigrants on how to adapt to life in the New World while maintaining their Jewish heritage. Recipes, menu suggestions, medicinal concoctions for various ailments and household management tips read as fascinating and (mostly) charming. This was the ﬁrst Jewish cookbook written in America, and the second written in English.
A recipe for pressed beef begins: “Take a piece of brisket of eight pounds, cosher it and bone it, roll it tightly in a cloth, with some marjoram, parsley, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and nutmeg; then tie it tightly and put it into the brine for two weeks...” Joan Nathan pens the introduction to this edition, inviting readers to look at many of the recipes as predecessors of dishes we know well today.
Chic Made Simple, by Esther Deutsch
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While this could have beneﬁted from a single photographer for a completely cohesive look, the important component is of course the recipes. Each stands on its own as easy to execute with familiar ingredients and delicious results.
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CUSTOM ORDER ORIGINAL ART 18
It should come as no surprise that a food stylist and recipe developer would produce a gorgeous, pictureﬁlled cookbook. That’s huge plus to those of us who like to see what we’re working toward when following a list of directions.
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Especially appreciated are suggestions on preparing dishes in advance of Shabbat and making dairy recipes pareve. Very nice.
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Many area congregations are having congregational or community Seders. Here is a list of those we had by press time, with brief details. For cost and reservation information, check our website or contact the individual congregation. For those looking to attend a Seder in someone’s home, most congregations can make arrangements. Temple Emanu-El, Birmingham: Second Seder, led by Rabbi Jonathan Miller, March 26 at 6 p.m. Reserve by March 21. Temple Emanu-El, Dothan: March 25, 6 p.m. Etz Chayim, Huntsville: March 26, 6 p.m. Temple B’nai Sholom, Huntsville: March 26, 5:30 p.m. The Seder will begin at the county jail and then move to the Temple. Ahavas Chesed, Mobile: March 25, 6:30 p.m. Reserve by March 20. Springhill Avenue Temple, Mobile: Congregational Seder, March 25, 6 p.m. Reserve by March 20. Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem, Montgomery: Community Seder, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. Beth Shalom, Fort Walton Beach: First-night Seder will be held March 25 at 6 p.m. at Eglin Air Force Base’s Bayview Club. Because of security at the base, certain forms of identiﬁcation will be required for those who do not have a military ID. Reservations open through March 19. Temple Beth-El, Pensacola: Sisterhood’s First Night Seder, catered by Appetite for Life. March 25, 6 p.m. Reserve by March 18. Gemiluth Chassodim, Alexandria: Passover picnic at the Wellan home, March 31 at 5 p.m., weather permitting. Beth Shalom, Baton Rouge: Second Night Seder, March 26, 7 p.m. Reserve by March 19. Northshore Jewish Congregation, Mandeville: Second Night Seder, March 26, organized by Sisterhood. B’nai Israel, Monroe: March 25, 6:30 p.m. Reserve by March 18. Beth Israel, Metairie: Second night Community Seder, after 7 p.m. service. Gates of Prayer, Metairie: Sisterhood hosting, March 26 at 6 p.m. Shir Chadash, Metairie: Second night All Star Musical Seder, March 26, 6:15 p.m. Features an all-star band made up from members of six well-known local bands. Temple Sinai, New Orleans: Second night Seder, March 26, 6 p.m. Service at 5:30 p.m. Touro Synagogue, New Orleans: Sisterhood Second Night Seder, March 26, 6:30 p.m. B’nai Zion, Shreveport: Catered ﬁrst night Seder, March 25. B’nai Israel, Hattiesburg: Community Seder, March 25, 6 p.m. Beth Israel, Jackson: Second Seder, March 26, 6 p.m. 20
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“Celebrate the good things”
Exhibit at BCRI portrays Muslims who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust In an era when the news is ﬁlled with conﬂict between Jews and Muslims, Muslims and Christians, “it is always good to have heartwarming stories where people go beyond cultural boundaries and help each other.” That was a prime motivation that led Ashfaq Tauﬁque, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, to bring “BESA: Muslims who Saved Jews in World War II” to the city. The exhibit, which is coordinated by the Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, will be displayed at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute from March 5 to June 30. The exhibit debuted at Yad Vashem in 2007, after photographer Norman Gershman decided to focus on Albania while doing a photo essay on Righteous Gentiles that saved Jews during the Holocaust. He learned that Albania, as a nation, refused to collaborate with the Nazis even when occupied — and that 70 percent of Albania’s population was Muslim. “French saved Jews, Poles saved Jews, Ukrainians saved Jews, many people saved Jews,” Gershman said. “Muslims? What, are you crazy? That’s the story.” After the war, Albania became a tight dictatorship cut oﬀ from the outside world until the 1990s, so the story was little known. As the exhibit opened in 2007, a ﬁlm crew went to Albania, Bulgaria and IsA 2008 book about the exhibit was published by Syracuse University rael with Gershman to make a documentary, which will be screened Press. at the Birmingham Museum of Art on April 18 at 7 p.m. Tauﬁque was Besa is a code of honor in Albanian culture that demands taking hoping to bring Gershman in for the screening, but Gershman’s health responsibility for the lives of others in a time of need. would not allow it. Before World War II, around 200 Jews lived in Albania. When the
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Nazis gained power, hundreds of Jews crossed the border from Yu- a program co-sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. goslavia, Germany, Greece, Austria and Serbia. When the Germans Tauﬁque ﬁrst learned of the exhibit about three years ago. He was foroccupied Albania in 1943, the Albanian population refused to comply warded an email about the exhibit, was intrigued and contacted the Eye with Nazi orders to turn over lists of Jews residContact Foundation, which Gershman founded. ing in Albania. After ﬁnding out what it would take to bring Almost all the Jews living within Albanian the exhibit to town, Tauﬁque spoke to friends borders during the German occupation, those at the YMCA, who immediately jumped on of Albanian origin and refugees alike, were board. He mentioned it to others he knew at saved. And those who took part in protecting the Civil Rights Institute and the Museum of the Jews stated it was their Muslim faith that Art, and in September 2011 the groups got toinﬂuenced them to act. gether to start the process. They gave their Jewish neighbors and guests Tauﬁque originally wanted to bring the exMuslim names and passports, hid them when hibit for early 2012, but it was suggested that necessary — usually in plain sight. it be delayed to coincide with the 50th anYad Vashem had 63 Albanians listed among niversary events of Birmingham’s civil rights the Righteous Gentiles, but Gershman uncovstruggle, taking place this year. ered over 150. Because of the tight isolation More recently, Ann Mollengarden from the of Albania almost immediately after the war, Birmingham Holocaust Education Center bethe rescuers lost contact with those they had The sign reads: The Jewish Refugees of came involved, making ﬁve primary sponsors saved. Solomon Adixhes and family drank from this for the exhibit. The ﬁlm focuses on Gershman and Rexhep nearby well while being sheltered by Ali and After the exhibit was set, other groups were Hoxha, a Muslim Albanian toy shop owner Ragip Kraja when being chased by the Nazis invited to be co-sponsors. Birmingham’s three who has three Judaic books that belonged to a synagogues and the Birmingham Jewish Fedfamily his father had sheltered 60 years earlier. Hoxha’s mission is to eration are participating, along with a wide range of churches. track down members of that family so he can return the books. While Tauﬁque acknowledges the “political realities” that divide the The ﬁlm debuted at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and has groups, “it’s always good to get us in the same room from time to time been at many Jewish ﬁlm festivals since. It was also screened last year and forget about our political diﬀerences, and celebrate the things that at the Islamic Society of North America convention in Washington, in have gone great.”
Happy Passover from
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Operatic “Old Hebrew” a new challenge for Cantor Colman March 8–24; May 12–18
By Christopher Sergel, Adapted from the novel by Harper Lee
An American Classic The play that Alabama is most proud to call its own comes to inspired life on ASF’s stage. Set in Depression-era Monroeville, and told through the voice of the beloved tomboy Scout, this Pulitzer Prize-winning tale embodies the life-long lessons of childhood, fairness and the courage to stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.
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Fresh oﬀ a 13th anniversary celebration of his time at New Orleans’ Temple Sinai, Cantor Joel Colman is set to conquer another endeavor. This month he makes his opera debut as Old Hebrew in the New Orleans Opera’s presentation of “Samson and Delilah.” Based on the Biblical story from 1150 B.C.E., the production stars Richard Cox as Samson and Edyta Kulczak as Delilah. Performances are March 15 at 8 p.m. and March 17 at 2:30 p.m. Music critic George Dansker will lead a “Nuts and Bolts” lecture an hour before curtain. The performances, at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, are in French with English supertitles. The original production, which debuted in Weimar in 1877, was in German. There are three acts, set in Gaza during the Philistine occupation. Old Hebrew’s prophetic role comes when Samson returns from killing Philistine commander Abimelech. Colman noted that anyone who comes late and does not get seated until the second act would therefore miss his performance, which is entirely in the ﬁrst act. Colman is a member of the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale, which a year ago was augmenting the chorale for the New Orleans Opera’s presentation of “Carmina Burana.” During the show’s run he made sure to say hello to a congregant, Rachel Van Voorhees, principal harpist for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. She introduced him to Robert Lyall, artistic director for the opera. Colman ﬁgures that later, Van Voorhees mentioned to Lyall that Colman was a bass-baritone, as Lyall was starting to cast for the Spring 2013 season. At the ﬁnal performance of “Carmina Burana” Lyall pulled Colman aside and asked to hear Colman audition a couple of weeks later. He auditioned and got the role of Old Hebrew. This isn’t Colman’s ﬁrst time on stage. He has performed with the Tulane Summer Lyric Theater, most recently in a run of “Fiddler on the Roof ” last summer. But opera is another animal. For starters, Colman is not ﬂuent in French. “Thank goodness my organist (at Temple Sinai), Marcus St. Julien, is ﬂuent with the French opera repertoire.” Also assisting his language skills has been Gisele Schexnider, a local French academic whose daughter, Margaux, had her Bat Mitzvah at Temple Sinai in January 2012. A year after being the Bat Mitzvah student, Margaux is now the teacher, and Colman said “I think she enjoys getting back at the cantor.” He added that “last time I sang for her, last week, she wasn’t laughing as much,” so he took that as a good sign. The other major challenge is that the other three principals are all professional opera performers. “That’s what they do, that’s their life. They’ve all sung at the Met in New York.” He compares it to being asked to play on an NBA team. The local performers have been rehearsing since January, and he said the opera’s chorus is “top notch.” The principals arrive in town on Feb. 27 for an intensive set of rehearsals leading up to the show. He calls Lyall a “mensch” who is sensitive to Colman’s obligations at Temple Sinai. The Vocal Arts Chorale is also ﬂexible, with members signing on as to which of the four programs per year they can ﬁt into their schedule. “Temple Sinai keeps me very busy,” he said. Having these additional musical outlets “stretches you vocally and challenges you,” he said, “and strengthens my role as a cantor.”
Choose the specialized memory care program at Rittenhouse Senior Living. In a small, warm, home-like setting, we will nurture spirits and feed the souls of those who need day-to-day help in managing an environment that may no longer make sense. Long and short term stays available – call Viki Mullins at 205-823-2393 Ida Kohlmeyer, Synthesis BB, The New Orleans Museum of Art: partial and promised gift of Arthur Roger, 2012.121
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An artist’s centennial
NOMA exhibit a retrospective on Ida Kohlmeyer By Lee J. Green Ida Kohlmeyer’s love for her native New Orleans and in some instances her Jewishness comes out in her abstract expressionist art. The New Orleans Museum of Art is honoring her memory with “Ida Kohlmeyer: 100th Anniversary Highlights.” The exhibit features signiﬁcant pieces of hers from NOMA’s permanent collection in an exhibition running through April 14. Born in 1912 to a Polish immigrant couple, Kohlmeyer was an inspirational woman and artist whose determination led to her proliﬁc body of work, according to exhibition curator Anne C. B. Roberts. “We are delighted to celebrate the centennial of a dynamic artist who had a tremendous impact on NOMA, the city of New Orleans and the art world at large,” said Roberts. Kohlmeyer studied English literature at Tulane, then her interests transferred to Latin American art after she met and married Hugh Kohlmeyer in 1934. In 1947, when their second daughter was born, Kohlmeyer started taking classes at the John McCrady Art School in New Orleans. With two young children at home, Kohlmeyer then earned her Masters of Fine Art degree in painting from Tulane University’s Newcomb College at the age of 44. She would go on to become one of the most celebrated abstract expressionists from the South. After receiving her degree, she took summer classes from the noted Hans Hoﬀman in Massachusetts, where she was inﬂuenced by abstract expressionism. Her ﬁrst solo show was in New York in 1959. She would have dozens of solo shows across the country, especially in New Orleans. Solo shows in the region included Montgomery, Jackson, Birmingham, Monroe, Laurel and a 1997 memorial tribute show in Mobile, shortly after she died. In 1966 the Peace Corps commissioned her to do a painting that would be presented to the Corps’ founding director, Sergeant Shriver. In the early 1980s she did a set of ﬁve sculptures, the Krewe of Poydras,
6 01. 8 8 5 . 6 0 42 • JAC O B S .U RJ CA M P S .O R G Southern Jewish Life
across Poydras Street from the Superdome. She also did the Aquatic Colonnade, a series of 19 metal sculptures at the Aquarium of the Americas. Originally installed in 1990, the sculptures were restored last year after years of fading in the sun, and to take care of some minor damage from Hurricane Katrina. The stained glass windows in the Forgotston Chapel at Touro Synagogue were designed by Kohlmeyer, and the original watercolor is displayed in the social hall. The selection of works in the NOMA exhibition touches on the breadth of Kohlmeyer’s professional career. Her play between color and line is evident in her early work inspired by Hoﬀman, her teacher, and colleague Mark Rothko, both of whom are also Jewish and pillars in the abstract expressionist canon. Whether muted or bold, it is color that deﬁnes shape, space and sentiment. The organic shapes, often delineated by color, create a dynamism that moves the viewer’s eye around the picture. The relationship between Kohlmeyer and NOMA has spanned half a century. In 1953, Kohlmeyer submitted Cityscape — New Orleans to the annual juried exhibition. Though it did not win, other works would win in 1957 and several subsequent years. Kohlmeyer would later have solo exhibitions at NOMA in 1957, 1974, 1985 and 1997. Her paintings, drawings and sculptures have also been included in numerous group exhibitions. In all, her work was in over 200 solo and group shows during her lifetime. Ida and her husband, Hugh, were also avid collectors of art from around the world and donated numerous works to NOMA from their collection.
March Madness hits Jacobs Camp
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The Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica has launched March Madness, through April 8. Last summer, $5000 was raised in a competition where donors mentioned their favorite university, and the top university in terms of dollars raised would have that amount matched. Also, the university’s ﬂag would ﬂy over the camp’s Wet Willie water slide during the summer. Last summer there was a tie between Alabama and Washington University, so their ﬂags alternated weeks. Will their ﬂags ﬂy again, or will runners-up Texas, Indiana, Temple, Louisiana State, Wisconsin, Memphis. Georgia, Northwestern, Yeshiva, Colgate or Auburn prevail? Funds raised go to capital improvements at the camp, and this year the goal is $10,000.
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Helping make it work Birmingham Fashion Week beneﬁts non-proﬁt founded by Alex Sokol
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By Lee J. Green While the third annual Birmingham Fashion Week features dresses and other fashions from up-and-coming as well as established designers, a portion of the events’ proceeds addresses the needs of schools and communities in Alabama from the devastating 2011 tornadoes. Birmingham Fashion Week kicked oﬀ on Feb. 26 and ran through March 2. Alabama Forever, a non-proﬁt group co-founded by Birmingham Jewish community member and University of Alabama graduate Alex Sokol, will beneﬁt from Birmingham Fashion Week. Additionally, the kick-oﬀ party is hosted by the Gus Mayer department store at The Summit. Sokol visited tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa on April 28, 2011 — the day after the storm struck — and knew what he had to do. “My wife and I felt a calling. I wanted to devote my life to this and help those in need,” he said. “After a disaster strikes, people need food, water and diapers. But once that need has been replenished, there is so much more we can do to rebuild and improve our communities, our schools and the quality of life across Alabama.” Along with long-time friends Chris Nix and Ed Welden, Sokol then almost immediately launched Alabama Forever. At ﬁrst it was mostly a disaster-response mission, but it soon branched out into the wider purpose of helping communities and schools in need. “We want to change lives and leave a lasting impression,” said Sokol. One of the three main initiatives is the Alabama Forever Classroom Project. This helps not just schools aﬀected by storms, but also Black Belt and inner-city schools by providing important teaching resources, technologies and supplies the schools need but can’t aﬀord. “We rank in the 40s among U.S. states in many educational statistics and we want to play a role in improving that,” he said. The second is the Alabama Forever Sports Endowment. All middle school and high school coaches and administrators in the state can apply for needs-based grants that would provide things such as safety supplies (concussion-protection helmets, for example). The organization has also funded the start-up of several new sports programs at schools that did not have them before. “Sports and community are so intertwined in Alabama. Improving schools and improving athletic programs helps to improve communities,” said Sokol. The third initiative is the Building/Re-building Communities Program. Alabama Forever partnered with Nick’s Kids, a charity founded a few years ago by Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terri, to rebuild and build new playgrounds in Tuscaloosa and hard-hit Phil Campbell. Pratt City, just west of Birmingham, was also devastated by the 2011 tornadoes. Thanks in part to the donation of computers and educational resources from Alabama Forever, the Pratt City Library will open its doors again in June. Sokol said that growing up Jewish, he has always been focused on the importance of tzedekah and mitzvot. His father, Bruce, started the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama and provided a good road map for the launching of Alabama Forever. Alex Sokol serves on the board of Camp Smile-A-Mile, a yearround program that helps send children with cancer to camp, with Birmingham Fashion Week founder Geana Lee Fleming. The Camp is
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also a recipient from Birmingham Fashion Week. BFW was founded on the “ideals of bringing unity to our community through fashion.” The week of events at various locations culminates with the ﬁnal runway show at Birmingham’s Pepper Place. This year, BFW has been expanded to seven days of various events showcasing world-renowned designers, including Heidi Elnora (former “Project Runway” TV show contestant from Birmingham), By Smith and Annie Griﬃn. This year also features designs by and appearances by “Project Runway” previous contestants Anthony Ryan Auld from Baton Rouge, Joshua McKinley Annie Bloomston’s Andy Warholand Laura Kathryn. inspired dress On March 2, the Emerging Design Winner and Rising Design Winner was to be announced. One of the submissions eligible in the student category is an Andy Warholinspired dress designed by Alabama School of Fine Arts student and Jewish community member Annie Bloomston. Gus Mayer has been hosting the opening night event for Birmingham Fashion Week the past three years. CEO Jeﬀ Pizitz, also an involved member of the area Jewish community, considers their involvement a large mitzvah. “This beneﬁts two very important charities and it helps young designers to get discovered so that they can further their careers. It is a special event and we’re happy to be a part of it,” said Pizitz. He said Gus Mayer carries several of the lines produced by designers who have been involved with Birmingham Fashion Week. “It’s a great way to showcase some of our area’s and the nation’s top designers,” he said. “Birmingham is a stylish community and this event gives us a chance to show the nation how fashion-conscious and fashion-forward we are here.”
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Area Scouts soar as Eagles Two Jewish Scouts from Troop 320 of Mountain Brook, both of whom are seniors at Mountain Brook High School, recently attained high honors in Scouting. Joel Phillips Michelson is the ﬁrst Eagle Scout in the troop to earn three Eagle Palms. The highest rank a young man can achieve in Boy Scouts is Eagle. After he receives his Eagle rank, the only other awards he can earn are Silver, Gold, and Bronze Palms. These are earned for each additional ﬁve merit badges, over the 21 required for Eagle, and three months of additional involvement in the troop. Joel is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Michelson of Mountain Brook, grandson of Dr. and Mrs. Leonard Michelson of Montgomery and The Honorable and Mrs. Ed Fowler of Hamil- Above, Joel Michelson. Below, Harrison ton. He was awarded Eagle Scout in October Bleiberg at his LJCC Eagle Scout project 2011 and had his Court of Honor in February 2012. His Eagle project was to refurbish the Brookwood Forest Elementary School Nature Trail, leading a team to build a podium and benches for an outdoor classroom. He used timbers to delineate the trail and raised over $750 for continuing maintenance. Troop 320 has had almost 250 Eagle Scouts in its 45 years of existence. One of the newer Eagles is Harrison Bleiberg, son of the late Elizabeth Wideman Bleiberg and Larry Bleiberg. For his service project, Harrison built an information kiosk marking the ﬁve-mile Linda and Jack McDuﬀee Mountain Biking and Fitness Trail at the Levite Jewish Community Center. He has served as president of the Temple Youth Group at Temple EmanuEl, and in the troop has been Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and Webmaster. At his Eagle ceremony at Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church, Emanu-El Rabbi Laila Haas gave the invocation.
Vision for the future: Pittler recognized by NIE Steven Pittler of Birmingham was recog- February. nized in the Audacious Goals chalPittler’s presentation is “Using lenge at the National Eye Institute, Molecular Scissors Genome Editing part of the National Institutes of to Cure Ocular Genetic Disease.” Health. NEI director Paul Sieving The proposal would permanently said “When we look back 10 to 12 correct gene defects in patients at years from now, what do we want the site of the mutation using molto have accomplished? The Auecules that act like scissors to predacious Goals initiative will help cisely replace genome errors with propel us into that future.” the correct DNA sequence. The top 10 proposals of about Pittler is a professor in the De500 submissions were selected partment of Vision Sciences in the to be presented at the Audacious Goals De- School of Optometry at the University of Alavelopment Meeting in Potomac, Md., in late bama at Birmingham. 30
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Fillers receive national Israel Bonds recognition
Master of Ceremonies Howie Mandel, Israel Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Carol and Jimmy Filler, Israel Bonds President and CEO Izzy Tapoohi, Israel Bonds Chairman Richard Hirsch Carol and Jimmy Filler of Birmingham were among 19 recipients of the Israel65 Award at the Israel Bonds Prime Minister’s Club Dinner, held January 27 in Boca Raton, Fla. The Fillers were recognized for dedication to Israel, leadership in the Jewish community, and longtime support for Israel Bonds. In addressing the sellout crowd of 750, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz declared, “Israel bonds are an expression of friendship and commitment that is so important to the Israeli people.” Master of ceremonies Howie Mandel commented on 2012 record sales that exceeded $816 million, praising Israel Bonds as “one of the most successful organizations.” He added that an investment in bonds represents “freedom, technology and the future.” The evening culminated with the presentation of the Israel65 Award, which was made by Steinitz, Mandel, Tapoohi and Bonds Chairman of the Board Richard Hirsch. Over $230 million in Israel bond investments were announced at the event.
Sinai’s “La Juive” wins Big Easy award Temple Sinai won the 2013 Big Easy Classical Arts Award for Best Community Opera Production, for the Selichot program that featured selections from Fromental Halevy’s opera, “La Juive.” The awards luncheon was produced and hosted by Gambit Magazine. “La Juive” was one of the most popular operas of the 19th century, and was seen as a plea for religious tolerance. The production was scheduled for a repeat performance at Shabbat services March 1 at Touro Synagogue.
ISJL’s Hart gets Mississippi Religious Leadership award Macy Hart, founder and president of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, was honored with the Religious Leadership Award from the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, Feb. 7 at its 40th annual banquet. The event was held at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson. The Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference (MRLC) is an interfaith coalition which grew out of the Committee of Concern. It consists of many faith leaders from across the state, joined together for the common purpose of discussing, addressing and participating in action that supports social justice, human rights, equality and other important issues in Mississippi today. Southern Jewish Life
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Steve Dubrinksy received the Alma Latina Business Award from the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama “for exemplifying outstanding concern and support for the Latino community.” As owner of Max’s Deli in Birmingham, he was caught in a controversy over concerns about the state’s immigration bill. At Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile, Robin Ayers, Shirley Boyd, Elizabeth Fry, Deborah Sack and Carol Zimmerman were called to the Torah as adult B’not Mitzvah on March 1. The ceremony was delayed from January because of the Dec. 25 tornado damage to the building. Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn of Temple Sinai in New Orleans was appointed to the Ethics Review Board by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He will ﬁll the unexpired term of Cornelius Tilton through June 30. The board, formed in 2006, administers and enforces the provisions of the Code of Ethics of the City. The New Orleans Estate Planning Council elected Saundra Levy as president for 2013. The council promoted education and awareness of estate and trust planning. Levy is executive director of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana. Gitty Friedman of the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham was inducted into the American Hebrew Academy’s prestigious Honor Society. This international honor society acknowledges exceptional 8th and 9th grade students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, the arts, leadership and service in their community. The Foundation for the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama presented the James O. Denton award to Ann Denbo. Denbo is former president of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. The award was presented at the Southern Night and Broadway Lights gala on Jan. 18 at the Princess Theater in Decatur. Rabbi Joel Fleekop of Temple Beth-El in Pensacola was recognized by the Independent News as a Rising Star. The program honors 50 leaders under the age of 35. Fleekop, wife Andrea and daughters Yael and Maya moved to Pensacola last June. On Jan. 26, Clare Grisham was honored as Huntsville Hadassah’s Woman of Valor. The event was held at the Huntsville Country Club, and daughter Hannah and son Max spoke about their mother and their comical relationship with her. Erin Arnold, Southern Region Vice President, gave an update on Hadassah happenings. During the evening, Grisham made her husband and son Associate members.
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tornadoes could select new outﬁts and receive many other services. John Mason, director of the Governor’s Oﬃce of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said after disasters “we typically discourage the gifting of clothing because it’s usually cleaning out the attic.” This was very diﬀerent, he said. “You contributed to the rebuilding of the souls of the people who were aﬀected by the storms.” He presented a proclamation from Governor Robert Bentley, while the city of Tuscaloosa named Feb. 16 David and Patti Aresty Day and presented them with the key to the city. Aresty said he was “deeply humbled” by the evening. He said rather than simply write a check for relief eﬀorts, “it was time for us to come down here.” He noted that the volunteer team put together “a shopping experience that was better than retail,” and “I’m not sure I understood the scope of it until I came down here.” Searching for a way to end his remarks, Aresty relied on the old ‘Bama standby — “Roll Tide.” Looking to the future, Vikki Grodner said the weekend was “an excellent springboard to engage alumni of all ages and as a lead in to the chapter’s centennial celebration in 2016.”
Diverse Jewish groups celebrate MLK Day Brick Oven Pizza NOLA Deli Wood-Fired Grill
On a warm, beautiful day in January, the Greater New Orleans community celebrated the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. A wide range of Jewish groups participated, under the coordination of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. Among those marching were Anti-Defamation League, Avodah, Congregation Beth Israel, Community Day School, Congregation Gates of Prayer, Hadassah, Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Family Service, Jewish War Veterans of America, JNOLA, National Council of Jewish Women, Touro Synagogue, Temple Sinai, Tikvat Shalom and Sisters Chaverot. “The Jewish American community nationwide, and most especially in New Orleans, has always been in the forefront of the Civil Rights struggle,” said Sol Gothard, commander of JWV in New Orleans. “Stern, Steeg, Weil, Waltzer, Bergmann, Feibelman... too numerous to enumerate here, their names and deeds are deeply imbedded in the history of our city. Therefore, it is only ﬁtting that the Jewish community should turn out in force to pay tribute to Dr. King, a champion of decency, brotherhood, and non-violence.”
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Info sessions set for Federation Israel trip In conjunction with the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Jerusalem this fall, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is planning a community mission to Israel from Nov. 10 to 18. “A Southern Journey,” chaired by Cathy Bart and Joshua Force, will take participants “oﬀ the beaten track.” Parlor meetings for interested participants will be at 7:30 p.m. on April 16 at the home of Ruth and Robert Force, and May 23 at the home of Cathy and Morris Bart. On the itinerary are a jeep tour of the RaNOLA
mon crater, a visit to the Ketura Sun solar ﬁeld, a security tour of the Egyptian border, reef snorkeling in the Red Sea, a camel ride in the hills near Eilat. A highlight will be a guided tour of Petra, Jordan, a site so compelling that before the Jordanian peace treaty, Israeli youth would sneak across the border to try and see it. There will also be visits to Yad Veshem, Masada, Independence Hall, the Old City and a visit to New Orleans’ Partnership 2Gether city, Rosh Ha’Ayin.
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“Sammy Spider” author visits Community Day School Sylvia Rouss, award winning children’s author of the “Sammy Spider” and “Littlest Pair” series, visited Community Day School in Metairie to read and visit with the students. She visited from California inspired by the Jewish community’s continued strength and resurgence after each hurricane season. She read her popular book “No Rules for Michael” and her newest addition to the “Sammy Spider” series, “Sammy Spider’s First Purim” to the Kindergarten, ﬁrst and second grade classes. Gates of Prayer Nursery School’s Pre-K class also joined in for the reading and stayed to visit with Rouss as she signed books and posed with children and parents for pictures.
Later in the day, Sylvia met with the third, fourth, and ﬁfth grade classes to read from her chapter book “Mitzvah the Mutt,” winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. She also answered their questions about how authors write and how to become published. In their writing classes, students are brainstorming their own short story ideas and, with Rouss available for questioning, they were able to ask a seasoned author how she creates and expands her stories. “You start by writing down one sentence. It starts as small as that.” Rouss also made the young writers an oﬀer they couldn’t refuse: “When you ﬁnish your stories, send them to me and I will send you my feedback.”
Sacred Music Festival on March 16 The Second Annual Sacred Music Festival will bring together performers from New Orleans’ diverse faith and cultural communities to share music, chants, prayers, brief ceremonies and conversations about the transformative power of music. The festival will be on March 16 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the New Orleans Healing Center. Touro Cantor Jamie Marx will be performing at the Festival on March 16 at 6 p.m., in Restaurant Fatoush, in the New Orleans Healing Center. Prior to the Festival, on March 14, author Rodger Kamenetz will be at the Maple Street Book Shop in the New Orleans Healing Center at 6:30 pm to discuss his book, “The Jew in the Lotus.” A complete schedule is at http://www.neworleanssacredmusicfestival.com.
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In Purim celebrations around the area, everyone was
Happy Itâ€™s Adar Clockwise from top left: The Baal Shem Tones played at Gates of Prayer, which had a joint Purim with Temple Sinai. The next morning at Gates of Prayer. Ready for Purim at Beth Israel. Moroccan Purim at Chabad. Purim at Anshe Sfard. Adloyada celebration at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center. Purim at Woldenberg.
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Happy Passover to my friends and supporters in the Jewish community
By Lee J. Green
Sheriff Newell Normand Jefferson Parish
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Kosher-Style Recipe: Gott Gourmet Cafe
Diners seeking a unique, fresh and gourmet take on Cajun/Creole, American and even Irish favorites (with casual prices) have got to try Gott. In October 2008, Gott Gourmet Café opened on Magazine Street between Washington and Louisiana. It continues to gain a reputation for its creative approach in a friendly environment. Chicago native David Gotter became interested in cooking at a young age in his mother’s kitchen. While attending the University of Illinois, he visited New Orleans and fell in love with the food the city had to oﬀer. After graduation, Gotter moved to Charleston, S.C. to enroll in the culinary arts program at Johnson and Wales University. During his last semester there before graduation, he interned under Chef Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Chicago. He went on to become executive sous chef at an upscale seafood restaurant in Charleston. Though things were going well, the lure of New Orleans was strong. Gotter would become the Specialty Restaurant Chef for The Riverview Restaurant at the New Orleans Marriott, where he would meet his wife, Christy Parker. In 2003, he moved to the hotel’s banquet kitchen and orchestrated meals for parties of up to several thousand. A few years later, right before Hurricane Katrina hit, Gotter started thinking about branching out on his own. After returning to the city in October 2005, he started working on a former cake shop and in January 2006, opened Gott Gourmet Catering. A couple of years later, Gott Gourmet Café opened its doors. “We describe the menu as casual gourmet. We wanted a place in which David could make some of these creations made previously for ‘upscale’ aﬀairs and places, and oﬀer them at reasonable prices in a friendly, casual atmosphere,” said Christy Parker. Gott Gourmet Café is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Their weekend breakfast/brunch includes creative pancakes, omelets and St. Patrick’s Breakfast — since the café is on the Irish Channel. It has been named Best Breakfast four years running by Where Y’at magazine. Up until last month, Gott just had one menu for lunch and dinner. Now they oﬀer a special dinner menu add-on featuring a few special dishes that change every month.
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Grilled Vegetable Salad with Honey Balsalmic Vinaigrette Ingredients (vegetables): Freshly cut carrots, zucchini, onion, squash, tomato, Portobello mushrooms, asparagus, green peppers, artichokes, avocados, cucumbers and baby spinach Directions for vegetables: Marinate freshly cut vegetables. Grill carrots, zucchini, onion, squash, tomato, mushrooms, asparagus and green peppers for 20 minutes or until desired result. Add the artichokes, avocados, cucumbers and baby spinach (do not grill those) Honey Balsalmic Vinaigrette ingredients: 1/3 cup Dijon mustard 2-½ peeled garlic cloves ¾ cup Balsalmic vinegar ¼ cup red wine vinegar ¼ cup brown sugar ¼ cup honey 2-½ cups canola oil Salt and pepper to taste Vinaigrette directions In blender, add mustard, garlic, both vinegars, honey, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Run on high and slowly add in canola oil. When it begins to thicken add water to maintain proper consistency. Check for sweetness. If needed, add more honey. Pour vinaigrette over vegetables mix and add to salads, wraps, omelets or as a side dish. NOLA
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Not all of the crossover observances involve alcohol — just the ones that make you forget the other ones. (Whatever happens in Shushan, stays in Shushan.) And what do people drink to forget more often (that can be mentioned here) than costumes they wear in public? If you were going to dress up for Purim as the king, and the February deadline got the best of you, you can use the costume for Pharaoh instead. Just know that this time your character won’t get the girl in the end. Neither will you, unless you help with the dishes. Unfortunately, if you have leftover hamentaschen, you can’t serve it at the Seder. No matter how much better month-old pastry tastes (and sits) than matzah. However, Beholder’s Eye scientists are hard at work on a new Purover confection: matzah-based marrortaschen. For progress updates, please subscribe to the emergency health alerts issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who attacks the Esther reading so fast, he could be called the Megillah Guerilla. For past columns, other writings, and more, visit http:// brookwrite.com/. //. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/the.beholders.eye.
>> Recipe Some of the regular menu items that are kosher-style include the grilled vegetable salad, blueberry pancakes, grilled vegetable wrap, ﬁve-cheese mac and cheese, burgers and fresh mozzarella panini. “We are happy to customize any order if someone wants to have it kosher-style or vegetarian,” said Parker. “We have gained a reputation for our Reuben and people can get it without cheese. Everything here is made fresh to order as someone wants it. Many of our dressings, sauces, croutons and other items are made fresh, not taken from a bottle or box.” She said they use as many organic and fresh-grown local products that they can. Gott also uses eco-friendly products and recycles. “Keeping green is important to us,” said Parker. Gotter still does catering and oﬀers customized menus. The café can also be rented out for a special celebration on Saturday nights, Sunday nights and any time Monday since the restaurant is closed during those times. NOLA
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The Beholder’s Eye by Doug Brook
Purover In some years, Jews get messed up by the addition of a leap month to the Hebrew calendar. (If they realized that the additional month is actually Adar, not Adar II, they’d be even more messed up.) But, as Cubs fans are already saying, just wait until next year. This year had the opposite eﬀect, with Adar coming so early that Purim was a week before February ended. So, because Passover will arrive in Purim’s usual month, this year’s March column covers both Passover and Purim by uncovering new truths about them both. If the early arrival of Passover this year makes it seem like your Seder is out of order, know that you had fair warning. It was predicted by Punxsutawney Phil, who, on Feb. 2, did not see his shadow because the passing Streit’s truck — itself well ahead of schedule — was blocking the sunlight. (It’s six weeks if you don’t count Passover is so early, each Shabbat, as the Talmud inJews barely had structs. Hush up and read.) With the adventure of an early enough time to give Passover comes the equally oﬀup keeping kosher season advent of our neighbors’ spring holidays, starting with a for Lent… Mardi Gras so early that you didn’t need ice in your drinks. This gave Jews barely enough time to give up keeping kosher for Lent. Of course, Jews each year are supposed to give up fasting for Lent, but the Fast of Esther always gets in the way. At a minimum, though, Ashkenazi Jews oﬀer a neighborly homage by giving up lentils for Passover. Mention that to your Catholic friends, as they prepare for their atypically timely reading of Megillat Easter. At any rate, this column’s faithful readers can rest assured. There are numerous Purim observances that both of you can easily adapt to the Passover Seder. On Purim, we’re commanded to drink until we can’t tell the good guy from the bad guy. (Of course, some single women simply call that “Saturday night.”) The holiday’s name actually comes from its most commonly uttered phrase, “pour ‘im another one!” With four glasses of wine, this ﬁts the Seder just as well as a ham and cheese on rye doesn’t. In ancient times, people often drank grog. After several rounds, they’d become particularly loud and unruly, thus noisemakers on Purim were called groggers. On all other Passovers, you don’t bring groggers to the table — they give Mother a headache. On this Passover, you might have many of these more traditional groggers. (If you do bring Purim groggers to this year’s Passover Seder, and use them each time the bad guy’s name is mentioned, two things: a) don’t mention this column, and 2) the Seder leader can’t complain because, unlike the Megillah reader, at least he has the vowels and such in front of him.) Of course, being Judaism, the good must come with the bad. Namely, with Purim and Passover so early this year, it’s a month longer until the holidays of theologically-mandated drinking arrive again. This coming year, Jews are stuck with a Lent-like fast after all.
Continued on previous page 38
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